The importance of art by Ready, Steady, Paint! Art Tutor, Ali Hargreaves

Ali Hargreaves is the professional art tutor expertly heading up the Ready Steady Paint! tutorials. Here, she explains how art can aid other, less creative subjects

Over several years, I was Artist in Residence at a couple of primary schools in Cheshire whilst I would also regularly run all day workshops for other schools in the area. Every teaching day was a joy as the children would never fail to be happy when it was time for art.

Drawing and painting isn’t just about creating a pretty picture; it involves so many necessary skills. From close observation to using the senses, self-expression and learning how to utilise new skills. For some children, art can be a necessary channel for expressing themselves when they are unable to do so in other ways. It’s perfect for developing fine motor skills in the early years whilst it’s a massive confidence boost when a child produces a drawing or painting they are proud of. In my opinion, with good quality teaching and the right materials, all children are capable of producing something worthy of hanging on the wall, and thus making them feel good.

With mental health issues on the rise, it’s important that children have an outlet. For some, if they have their creative side fulfilled, they are more likely to be calmer and able to settle to other, more academic work. If you think about it, all subjects are linked to art. For example, art is in:

Maths – space, shape, angles, measuring, repeated patterns.

Science – close observation, using the senses, dissecting flowers and fruit, anatomy, chromatography.

English – discussion, descriptive dialogue, imagination.

Children don’t even realise they are ‘doing maths’ when, let’s say, they are scaling up a drawing. For those who think they are hopeless at maths, it’s an ingenious way of teaching.

My fear is that England is going to end up with a serious absence of creative thinkers, designers and artists, which is not a good outlook for our future. So, I really hope that all those who follow the Ready, Steady, Paint! programme will become as passionate about art as I am. I hope it helps enable our future generations to become creative thinkers – and become confident in their natural ability.

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